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Trees are an indispensable part of our natural world, and an important part of the ecosystem, performing so many functions vital to our environment, and yet they are so often treated with such little regard.
When you as a homeowner contemplate design changes on your property, take a moment to consider the impact to the trees. This is a perspective that helps to get a project started off on the right foot. Consider putting together the right design team and incorporating Best Management Practices (BMP’s) from the very start of a project.
I cannot stress enough the importance of Low Impact Development strategies up front in the earliest stages a project. This is critical in achieving true LID benefits as opposed to simply tacking a few band‐aids on to the project and it requires assembling the right team from the very beginning. A complete and diverse team that is able to consider the unique characteristics of a parcel of land from each of their perspective areas of expertise, prior to committing to a siteplan.
Identifying environmental assets prior to deciding on a building program, can make all of the difference in the success of a project. And not just environmentally. By placing more emphasis on the land first and letting the unique characteristics of the landforms, topographical features, vegetation and hydrology inform us as to what the building design and program should be, we can make the whole process of developing a piece of property go smoother, from permitting, right through to construction and ultimately long term maintenance. This is the most effective way to design around the environmentally sensitive portions of a site and to avoid negative environmental impacts. And it is the most effective way to achieve success in Low Impact Development.
While this may seem obvious, it is not the norm. As designers, we are often presented with rigid design requirements from owners that have developed their plans and assumptions about a building program without any reference to a specific parcel of land. We are then expected to stamp these plans onto the ground and make the landforms yield to the design.
It will take education and a realignment of our current methodologies and priorities to change this approach. It requires a shifting of emphasis from top down design to more of a bottom up approach, starting with what the land tells us it can support and developing the right building program with that information in hand.
- Greenwich Tree Conservancy Panel Discussion - Sam Bridge Nursery 4/2/2016
Steve Johnson, Landscape Designer & Nurseryman, Sam Bridge Nurseries
Brian Johnson, Arborist, Hawthorne Brothers Tree Service
John R. Conte, RLA, ASLA, Landscape Architect, Conte & Conte, LLC
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